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Just Landed: Travel news highlights

12th December 2014

All-inclusive meets eco-friendly in the Maldives, Qantas marries the largest aircraft with the longest route, new Bali hinterland spa villa opens, and more travel news.

Virgin to switch from premium on short-haul routes
Virgin Australia plans to remove its premium economy option from trans-Tasman and international short-haul routes. The change comes into effect on the Sydney-Auckland route from 27 February, and from 30 March on all other routes in including other New Zealand destinations, Samoa, Vanuatu, Tonga, Fiji and the Cook Islands. Virgin will replace premium economy with a new business class option, with clients already booked and ticketed in premium economy being upgraded to business class at no extra cost.

Back to the &Beyond in the Okavango
Roaring back after a complete rebuild is the &Beyond Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge which re-opened in September. The lodge has been designed to align with its conservation principles focusing on sustainability and efficiency. Eco-friendly measures mean the lodge will save 67,000 litres of diesel per year which is a carbon footprint saving of 180 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Located in a private reserve in the Okavango Delta, the lodge offers guests exclusive access to a vast region of the wildlife-rich Moremi Game Reserve.

Convert KrisFlyer and Velocity points for greater rewards
Singapore Airlines and Virgin Australia have launched a new frequent flyer conversion initiative. KrisFlyer and Velocity members can convert their frequent flyer miles and points between programs at a rate of 1.35 to 1.00, offering greater access to Reward Seats and flight upgrades. KrisFlyer members will also benefit from Velocity’s range of non-flight redemption rewards. A conversion rate has been used as each program operates in a different reward currency.

New hinterland spa villa for your next Bali holiday
The Chedi Club Tanah Gajah in Ubud, Bali, has added three new pool spa villas offering a new and exclusive experience at the 20-room boutique property. The hotel’s general manager Alain Bachmann said, “People who come to Ubud crave the opportunity to make the most of as much quiet, contemplative time as they can. With pools in their courtyards and treatment facilities nestled between their indoor living space and outdoor bathing area, we’re cultivating even more exquisite levels of privacy.”

Indian visas go electronic for Australian travellers
The Indian Government has unveiled a new Tourist Visa on Arrival scheme, with travellers from 43 countries including Australia now eligible. Instead of queuing at their local consulates for a visa, visitors can now apply online by uploading a photo and passport page. The cost is US$60 and an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) will be sent via email if the visa is approved. Travellers must print and carry a copy of their ETA, which can be used to enter India at nine airports. Applications can be made a minimum of four days ahead of proposed travel date and maximum of 30 days.

All-inclusive meets eco-friendly in the Maldives
Club Med will open a new resort in the Maldives in February 2015. The eco-friendly, all-inclusive Finolhu Villas Resort will comprise of 52 exclusive waterfront villas. The resort occupies a private island near Club Med’s recently renovated Kani Premium Resort, which offers reciprocal access to Finolhu guests. Luxury facilities include personal villa butlers, fine dining restaurants, a spa and private villa pools. The villas are also equipped with solar panels as part of the resort’s eco-commitment.

Qantas marries the largest aircraft with the longest route
Qantas has launched the world’s largest passenger aircraft on the world’s longest route – the nonstop A380 service between Sydney and Dallas/Fort Worth. Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said, “We know our customers will value the comfort of the A380 on this route, particularly for our awardwinner seats in every cabin, the sense of space and quiet, our entertainment options and in-flight hospitality. Not only will the A380 increase seats on the route by 10 percent each week, it will also provide greater fuel efficiency and the range to operate the return service direct back to Sydney.”

The first all-balcony stateroom and suite ship to cruise Antarctica
Scenic Tours has launched its 2016 Antarctica program with the addition of a third private charter and a range of new itineraries and extensions.   Passengers will have the choice of three private charter cruises to the region aboard the five star ships Le Boreal and Le Lyrial, the latter of which is the first all-balcony stateroom and suite ship to cruise Antarctica.

Hair cut. Clothes Pressed. Etihad's new luxe lounge
Etihad Airways has opened an arrivals lounge at Abu Dhabi airport for first-class and business passengers. The luxury facility offers passengers a comfortable retreat complete with large screen TVs, ten shower units, cafe-style refreshments and a complimentary clothes steaming service. An innovative wet-shave concept is also included, which offers guests the complimentary services of a qualified barber, while business travellers can prepare for meetings at the onsite business facility featuring Apple computers, printers and wireless internet connections.